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Vader - "The Empire" (CD)

Vader - "The Empire" CD cover image

"The Empire" track listing:

1. Angels of Steel
2. Tempest
3. Prayer to the God of War
4. Iron Reign
5. No Gravity
6. Genocidius
7. The Army-Geddon
8. Feel My Pain
9. Parabellum
10. Send Me Back to Hell

Reviewed by on November 1, 2016

"...as gritty and nasty as the group ever sounded."

What can be said about Vader? As one of Europe's longest running and most influential death metal bands, they've left a mark and created a legacy most bands can only dream of. Thirty years on from their formation, the Polish death metal veterans have released eleventh studio album, "The Empire," which succeeds in two areas. Firstly in making it difficult to find on search engines thanks to the Star Wars connections and secondly, in keeping their reputation as one of death metal's most ferocious bands well and truly alive.

"The Empire" begins with a classic example of what makes Vader so beloved. "Angels of Steel" is as gritty and nasty a song the group ever sounded. It marries several favourite elements of metal music seamlessly; brutal yet epic, crushing but well structured. It all makes for an excellent death metal song which leads nicely into the next track, "Tempest," a frenzied piece of bedlam which captures the chaos of Vader's live performances perfectly.

There's a lot more to "The Empire" than brutality however, as evidenced on such songs as "Iron Reign," which subtly pays homage to their heroes from the classic heavy metal era and being something of an anthem musically, while "Feel My Pain" contains some very groovy passages, which is also present on closer, "Send Me Back to Hell." There's also "No Gravity," which may well be the best song on the album by comprising all the best elements found on the record throughout and creating a track that can best be described as a bullet train to Hell.

Although the album is yet another strong string to the bow of Vader, there was one recurring problem throughout, which was the production. At times, I had to turn the music down considerably because it would suddenly reach a high level, as well becoming quite cloudy and muffled. Hopefully this is only a fault of the advance copy and the full release won't be blighted by this, as it can certainly affect the enjoyment of the first few tracks.

Despite that setback, "The Empire" is a solid album which keeps relevant as one death metals premier bands. It's ferocious, epic, melodic in places and brutal in others. In short, it's Vader.

Highs: "Angels of Steel," "Prayer to the God of War" and "No Gravity."

Lows: The production hindered enjoyment at times and some songs come across as filler.

Bottom line: Vader's legacy of hellbound death metal continues with another excellent album.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)